In DepthInfectious Diseases

When Ebola protection fails

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 17-18
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6205.17

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Summary

More than 300 health care workers have contracted Ebola in the current epidemic and half have died. Three survivors explain that they only have hunches about how they became infected, and they discuss the role of transmission in places outside of Ebola treatment units, including emergency rooms and even between the crew decontaminating people taking off their personal protective equipment. Scant data exist about the infectiousness of different bodily fluids and environmental factors like countertops, but the one study that has looked at this question had surprising results. Training is ramping up of health care workers about to travel to affected countries to help, and this should address one of the key factors that clearly increase the risk of transmission: a shortage of trained people to do the difficult job of caring for the infected.